Sunkoshi dam weakened by August flood, landslide

sunkosi_dyam_katan-2SINDHUPALCHOK, SEP 18 – The dam at the Sunkoshi hydropower project is in danger of disintegrating as the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been moving slowly to repair the damage caused by last month’s landslide and flood.

The landslide of August 2 at Jure had impaired two of the gates of the 43-year-old structure. The 10 MW hydropower project had been built by China as a gift. Four out of its six gates remain blocked by stones and sand even though the floodwaters have receded.

“If the water level rises, it may cause further damage to the dam,” said an official at the hydropower project.

Rameshwor Phuyal, chief of the production unit at the Sunkoshi hydropower project, said the dam was not free from risk due to incessant rainfall in recent days. According to him, a higher level engineering unit has been

studying the situation. “Based on the report, we will initiate further work,” he said.

As most of the gates have been blocked, a rise in the water level will result in the dam  overflowing. As the Sunkoshi River has been eroding the road side at the northern side of the dam gate, there is a high risk of the dam being destroyed if the water continues to flow in that direction, said another project official.

Meanwhile, mud has been deposited at the dam after another landslide near Tekanpur at its southern part. In addition, three outlets leading the river’s water towards the powerhouse have been blocked. About 75 percent of the water in the landslide lake has been discharged after 37 days.

“If all the stones and mud had been cleared before discharging the water in the landslide lake, all the gates would not have been blocked,” said the official. Even after the dam had been blocked, the Sunkoshi plant was still producing 3.5 MW of electricity.  Sher Singh Bhat, deputy executive director at the production directorate of the NEA, said no immediate work could be done to protect the dam. “Work will start within a few days when the rain eases off,” he said.

Currently, production of electricity at the hydropower project has been completely halted due to the blockage in the dam. “If the dam does not suffer further damage, we can resume output at full capacity within a year,” said Bhat, adding that they would make plans in support of the high level engineering team.

The hydropower plant has been repeatedly damaged floods in the Sunkoshi and Bhote Koshi rivers. It had been operating at full capacity before being crippled by the flood and landslide.

Source : eKantipur